Paul Kudray became the Director of Resilience at North West Ambulance Service in March 2007. Previous to this he started his Ambulance career back in 1982 as a Cadet with Greater Manchester Ambulance Service and has worked his way up through the ranks. Here in NARU News, we find out more about Paul’s role and what it means for national ambulance service resilience.
What career path led to you being Director of Resilience at North West Ambulance Service?
I have worked hard, believed in myself and I took the opportunities that came up. I have been in the Service for 31 years now and in that time I have experienced most of the roles from operational paramedic, clinical practice trainer, control manager and operational manager. I was a manager in the service way before paramedics started to be introduced and I went back ‘on the road’ as we say, for 10 years to work once I qualified as a paramedic. I started working fully in the Emergency Planning (EP) world around 2004 and studied for a Masters degree in disaster management and gained experience of working in this particular side of the Service. I think I have a natural ability and understanding for this type of work.
What particularly interests you about the world of EPRR?
It is a subject that is one of the fasting growing industries in the world. This is a result of global media and modern technology that reports and shares images of disasters as they are unfolding and also because disasters happen – and they will continue to do so. Disasters affect people, the environment and the economy and its no longer acceptable to do nothing about those risks before they happen. Organisations are held more to account and the threats and risk of terrorism are all too obvious. The role and responsibilities we have today in this area of work is to identify, develop and maintain capabilities to help to protect people from disasters.
In terms of EPRR, what does the Ambulance Service do well, and where could it improve?
I think we can demonstrate that we are great leaders in the field of EPRR and we take our share of responsibility to work with the wider NHS and our multi-agency partners. We have provided a great deal of innovation and capability over these last ten years and we are not afraid to ‘look in the mirror’ and see where we can continue to improve and enhance not only our own capabilities but those of others too.
We have identified lessons from high profile incidents and events and we always have a positive attitude to actively learn and improve response and recovery arrangements for the benefit of the public . It is my opinion that the Ambulance Service has great drive and motivation to remain a leader in the EPRR field. There are always areas where we can improve and not stand still and that is something that the public will expect of us. We need to ensure that our capabilities remain efficient in terms of quality and cost and it is important that we continue to influence the commissioning groups that resilience is core day to day business and not an add on.
Where do you see NARU in five years’ time and how should we get there?
Whatever the model of Ambulance Service delivery in the future, for example more of a ‘hear and treat’ approach or other formats, conventional hazards, and risks and the threat of terrorism will remain an obvious constant, regardless of any political administration.
The public expectation on us will remain high to ensure that we mitigate any such risks, prepare, respond and recover to and from any major or mass casualty incidents. NARU will play a significant role in providing leadership and quality – not just for the Ambulance Service but for and with our NHS England colleagues. Our collective aim is to protect the public and the NHS core business, whilst supporting partner agencies at all times.
Through NARU we can continue to influence and develop consistent national capabilities and ensure that there is good value for money if we make sure we work together for the same purpose. It is important we continue to have a central national capability.
Can you tell us about the Health Service Commanders Award© that you are developing?
The Health Service Commanders Award© or HSCA© for short, is probably the most exciting and innovative command and control programme the NHS has produced in my opinion. It is designed and focused on protecting the public first and foremost. It has been developed around the lessons identified from previous incidents and events and it sets the quality standard of education and development for any individual who will be responsible (in charge) of any health related incidents.
It is the first academic award programme that has been designed around how the health service works and the specific needs and complexities of the health service. It is fully aligned to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) programme. The HSCA© is run in partnership with BPP University (School of Health) and is a level 6 academic programme. The HSCA© will not only help provide us with a national quality standard for health service commanders but it will also enable succession planning to develop the next generation of commanders for the future.
The development of The HSCA© furthers demonstrates the Ambulance Service’s drive and leadership to be innovative and develop new programmes that may have seemed too hard to do in the past. I hope it will be a huge success and I have every confidence it will be. It is our obligation to ourselves and to others to always seek to be the best we can be.
Are you involved in any other interesting EPRR initiatives?
I have chaired the national Preparedness Work Stream for several years now and in that time we have been responsible for introducing the first national ambulance service command and control guidance, the CPD programme for commanders and the Lessons Identified Debrief capabilities. I see that it is part of my responsibilities not just with NWAS but on the national scene to look beyond the norm and push some of the boundaries to tackle difficult issues.
I see the succession planning element of future NHS commanders and Incident managers being a key issue. We need to look at how we can attract talented individuals into managerial and ultimately command and control roles when currently they are put off because financially they lose money by not getting un-social hours payments. Hopefully the vision of regional academies and programmes will help us over the next 10 years to establish the next generation of commanders.
How do you know when you are having a good day, and when does a good day become a bad one?
A simple good day can be when I have got through my ‘must do list’. A good day goes to a bad one when that must do list is longer by the end of the day than when I first started it! Seriously I enjoy the work I do. I have never once struggled to get motivated to do the work I do now. I work with a fantastically talented Team and I am only as good as they are so we work well together. We all have good and bad days at work but most of the time we are fortunate to go home safe and healthy when others don’t always have that luxury so on the whole, I have nothing to complain about. It is about getting the right work and home life balance. Life is for living is my philosophy!
What are your main messages for your EPRR colleagues across the NHS?
Firstly it is to keep the hard work and drive going. There are a lot of experienced and talented EPRR colleagues out there and we have collectively achieved a great deal in educating and influencing non EPRR people about the essential purpose of our work. As the cost improvements and efficiency drives kick in even harder, it is critical that we maintain work we need to do to help protect the public and the NHS, but whilst also delivering it with value for money and with innovative ways. We have to stay ahead of the game to some degree because the population and generations are different so we need to ensure we look ahead at how EPRR can and will be effective when we leave the NHS. I think we all have a vested interest in the future.